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Methane and Manure: Feasibility Analysis of Price and Policy Alternatives

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  024091,  2002 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.10484) @2002
Authors:   Mark V. Garrison, Tom L. Richard
Keywords:   Anaerobic digestion, biomass energy, methane, animal waste, economics, policy

Anaerobic digestion has a number of benefits as a manure treatment technology, including greenhouse gas and odor reduction, increased nutrient availability, and reduced pathogen risk. There is also a potential for electricity generation and energy recovery, although this is only achieved at additional cost. The economic feasibility of the energy conversion technology varies significantly with scale, with significant advantages for larger facilities. This study examined the feasibility of anaerobic digestion and methane recovery for the full range of scales of swine and dairy producers in Iowa, under six policy scenarios. Based on these scenarios it appears that swine and dairy operations offer the best opportunities for installing either plug-flow or complete mix digesters. For swine operations farrow-to-finish and finishing operations needed more than 20,000 head and 5,000 head, respectively, to be economically feasible. Dairy operations hold even more economic promise as the feasible herd counts were in the 150 to 350 head range for electricity prices of $0.12/kWh. GIS analysis was used to apply the feasibility analysis to the distribution of livestock production facilities in Iowa, and examine the energy potential on a per county basis under the different scenarios. Results indicate that increased energy prices and financial assistance will be needed to encourage significant numbers of facilities to recover energy from manure.

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